By Syed Qamar Hasan
Architecture is more than bricks and mortar. it is a quest for a unique identity of its own, where those who commission the monument want to leave behind indelible markers of the cultures, traditions, and arts of their times, says a leading expert on architecture.
And interestingly having mastered a combo of related subjects, architecture, civil engineering, conversation, literature, and the Hyderabadi Tehzeeb‘ Sajjad Shahid, adding more to the above says, even fruits and vegetables have been used in architectural designs to mark their discovery or arrivals related to that era.
Delivering the 19th session of the ‘Thursday Table’ lecture at the Hyderabad Institute of Excellence, HIE on ‘Architecture of Hyderabad: A Quest for Synthesis’ Sajjad elaborated, “the humble potato, often the butt of jokes won a space like the once exotic Pineapple from South American in stuccos of monuments indicating the times the tuber and tropical delicacy had become common to Indian culinary.”
Sajjad using slides to make his talk more interesting to the students pointed out the Pineapple depicted in the stucco on the tomb of the third Qutub Shahi ruler, Sultan Ibrahim Quli Qutub Shah (1550-1580) must have been brought to South India by the Dutch and Portuguese in 1560 and made deep inroads reaching Golconda by 1570. Further research by him revealed that the fruit was also mentioned in an ode by a Telegu poet on the garden of one of the nobles of the time Amin Khan who grew pineapples. The potato likewise found its way to the tables of Nawab Wajid Ali Khan exiled to Mitya Burj from Awadh. ” Perhaps a delicacy of the times, it was added to the Royal kitchen as an innovative ingredient to Awadhi Biryani, still found in the dish.”
A marker of civilizational progress architecture often conveyed in a subtle manner the power and hold of the kings and sultans who commissioned the monuments as a weapon both in favor and against to intimidate and as art to enjoy and a strong medium to reflect civilizational changes .
Mentioning Golconda, the X factor in the history of the Deccan, Sajjad underpinning the charm and commercial importance of the place said that Golconda has now become a generic term beyond the once a diamond mine, for affluence, welfare, and happiness. A lexical claim, “I have referred several dictionaries searching for what Golconda means and found that since 1818 beyond the diamonds it also stands for welfare and happiness and several places as far as Nevada in the US, where a place is named after Golconda and there are five more places named as Golconda.”